Friday, April 8, 2011

"What is this, I don't even..." - Let's Continue to Read "A Field Guide to Dinosaurs"!

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983, Pages 62 and 63

For the second half of our trip through
A Field Guide to Dinosaurs (Copyright 1983 by Diagram Visual Information, Ltd.), we're going to take a look at dinosaurs we didn't know an awful lot about back in 1983. We have since learned quite a lot about them as new fossils have turned up since.

And of course we're going to start with dromeosaurs. The Deinonychus and Velociraptor you see were, I think, the only almost-complete specimens we had of this group of animals circa 1983. So, obviously they are naked (Archeopteryx is considered closer to Compsognathus because, err, they are both little). But even ignoring that, those are some strange looking reconstructions. "Small body, big giant head" is even listed as a distinctive feature of Deinonychus! And why is Velociraptor's neck so much thicker than his legs?

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983, Page 67

And here's a very strange Oviraptor. Funny how she gets to sport some feathers, however sparse. I'm not sure what's going on with that little horn on her beak (they do have an image of the skull and it's in pretty bad shape, so probably the distinctive crest broke off and left that horn), but at least she doesn't have the head of a generic "Coelurosaur".

Now, obviously the 'raptors were going to look different in 1983...

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983, Page 76

But take a look at this strange Dilophosaurus! Apparently, when Dilo was first discovered, he was assumed to be a close relative of Megalosaurus, and therefore had to be big and burly, not relatively small and rather weedy with that distinctive snout. About the only thing this image gets right are those twin crests.

Speaking of snouts of distinction:

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983, Page 84 and 85

This is what Spinosaurus was assumed to look like in the 80's. Famously, the only known specimen of the animal was destroyed during World War Two, and the true nature of Spinosaurus wouldn't be known until more specimens of itself and it's relatives would start to be discovered... about five years after this book was published. (Sad trombone.)

So nearly every dinosaur book at the time held that Spinosaurus was just a generic "Carnosaur" with a big fin thing. Or a bipedal Dimetrodon mimic. It would have been very easy for someone who didn't know better to confuse Dimetrodon and Spinosaurus back then, which may, if nothing else, explain Dimetro.

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983, Page 163

And then there's Saurolophus and his amazing inflatable face. I don't know if this theory is still supported by anything, but it was at one point thought that crested hadrosaurs not only had built-in resonators in their beautiful crests, they also had inflatable air sacs to further impress the hadro-ladies. To be fair, there are some pretty strange mating displays in nature, but you don't see this illustrated much anymore. Seems the crests and loud noises would be enough.

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983, Page 90 and 91

Finally, let us conclude our journey through this old book with some proof that nobody knew just WTF when they first found remains of Therizinosaurs.


I got a note from ebay this morning, which I thought very odd because I'm not currently selling anything. Turned out to be from reader Ritorno, who decided to contact me through ebay (well, stranger things have happened). He had this new information to share:

Hey Trish I am not on any of the blogs so I just thought I'd run some thoughts by you on your vintage dino book thing. I am big collector of those but similar in age to you (I think!)

Anyway that
Field Guide book was by David Lambert/Diagram book projects. They are notorious for using artists to trace other artists, esp. in their dino books like 1990's THE DINOSAUR DATA BOOK. The Syntarsus was originally Sarah Landry under the direction of Bakker (see how they mis-site?)

And yes Herrerasaurus was thought to be prosauropod from 1960s to the early 80s by the Old Guard but not by Hallett, Greg, Olshevsky, etc. Some of the books I have are on Collectorsquest btw

- ritorno12

There's something about the title Dinosaur Data Book that strikes me as familiar...


Urgent Edit:

It is Draw a Bird Day! You may remember Draw a Dinosaur Day? Well, this is totally unrelated (except in the biological sense). It has a very heartwarming story behind it, so please participate.


Art of the Day!

It had to be said.

"FITBY" Ep. 49 - Greggagedon!

Important note (and thanks for pointing this out in the comments.) Flickr has recently done something screwy with it's size options, so to view "Gregageddon" in it's original, readable size, you will have to click on the above picture to get it's page, then click on the picture again, then click "all sizes" in that dark page, then hit "Original Size". Yeah. (Unless this link works.)


Albertonykus said...

More old paleo tropes! I remember seeing horn-nosed Oviraptor in several other older books as well.

Neil said...

Yeah the nasal horn was standard on pre-mid-80s Oviraptors - based as you surmise on the poorly preserved type skull of O. philoceratops which has a little nubbin but no obvious crest.

Anonymous said...

I owned this book way back when... so many memories!

Unknown said...

Ah, Neil beat me to it. I'll contribute that Dilophosaurus was originally described under the Megalosaurus name--as was every other theropod in the early days of American paleo. It wasn't until those crests were noticed that it was given its own name, from what I recall.

Trish, is there a way to blow up (expand, not explode) your comic? I can't really read the writing...

JerkyD said...

In reference to what Neil said, the horned Oviraptor persisted even into the 90's (E.g. "The Humongous Book of Dinosaurs": ).

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, I remember seeing a horn-nosed Oviraptor (and carnosaur-skulled Spinosaurus) in a 2006 book: